University of Alberta
Thank you for visiting. This page is in the process of being updated. Please check back soon.

Information Technology Enterprise Committee Creation Proposal

Proposal for the Creation of an
Information Technology Enterprise Committee

The University of Alberta has 58 information technology (IT) groups that are supported through the operating budget. These 58 groups spend roughly 10% of the operating budget on information technology purchases, people, and related expenses. These numbers exclude IT groups and expenditures that are related to research, centres and institutes, the SU, GSA, AAS:UA, and NASA.

The large number of groups results in duplication of IT infrastructure, services, and resources across the University. For example, a year ago the University of Alberta had 82 independent email systems. By September, all email service will be consolidated into one, provided by Google. This represents a major cost saving to the institution, improvement in the quality of service, and simplification to the University's IT infrastructure.

Industry best practices supports an organization consolidating duplicated core services -- such as email, networking, and backups -- into one high-quality centralized service. These services are viewed as "utility computing", drawing the analogy to the power, water, and heat utilities. For example, as indicated in the 2012 Federal Budget, the Federal Government is beginning such a process:

The newly created Shared Services Canada that's supposed to modernize and manage the government's aging IT systems is a key player in promised predicted savings. The government spends about $5 billion a year on IT. The new agency is expected to streamline more than 100 email systems into one, consolidate 300 data centres and more than 3,000 electronic networks. Still in its infancy, the agency must save $150 million by 2014-15.

The auditors have observed the highly decentralized nature of IT at the UofA and recommended a review of how IT is managed (so-called IT Governance). Internal Audit did a survey of IT stakeholders at the University (2011). This information was used to inform an external agency (Gartner) tasked to review University of Alberta IT management structures and make recommendations (2011). Internal Audit vetted these recommendations (2012) and the accompanying material is the result of those discussions.

The following proposal creates an Information Technology Enterprise Committee that has a mandate for offering and sustaining "core" IT services. The mandate for the committee reflects the need to centralize services where it makes sense to do so, while respecting the needs of our diverse community (such as geography, language, external relationships, etc.). By implementing this plan, the expectation is that the entire University community will receive the same high-quality service for all core systems.

This is not an attempt to eliminate IT groups at the University of Alberta. These groups will have their focus changed to supporting unit-specific research, teaching, and administrative needs. IT personnel providing core services in a faculty/department/unit could be reallocated to meet other unit needs or could continue providing core services through AICT. In the latter case, they will still have a physical presence in the unit.

The proposal also creates an Information Technology Advisory Committee to provide community input into the Information Technology Enterprise Committee.